Google tests Internet drones at spaceport

Image: Titan drone

Titan Aerospace, which was acquired by Google in 2014, has been working on solar-powered drones that could provide high-speed Internet access from a high altitude. (Credit: Titan file)

The latest twist in the race to provide high-speed Internet access from above comes in the form of a report in The Guardian, to the effect that a hush-hush Google project called SkyBender is testing drones in the skies above Spaceport America in New Mexico.

The Guardian says it’s obtained documents laying out how high-altitude drones could relay gigabits of data per second, using millimeter-wave, phased-array transmissions. Jacques Christophe Rudell, an electrical engineering professor at the University of Washington, is quoted as saying that “the huge advantage is access to new spectrum, because the existing cellphone spectrum is overcrowded.”

Millimeter-wave communications could open the way for 5G wireless service that’s 40 times faster than the current 4G LTE standard. But millimeter-wave signals have a relatively short range: According to The Guardian, Project SkyBender would have to use thousands of transceiver-equipped aerial vehicles to knit together the network.

The system is reportedly being tested using Aurora Flight Sciences’ Centaur optionally piloted aircraft as well as the solar-powered drones made by Titan Aerospace, which was acquired by Google in 2014 after a fling with Facebook.

Get the full story on GeekWire.

About Alan Boyle

Aerospace and science editor for GeekWire, creator of Cosmic Log, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing. Check out "About Alan Boyle" for more fun facts.
This entry was posted in GeekWire and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.